Linux Desktops That a New User to Linux Should Consider

One of the greatest strengths that I see in Linux is the number of choices that a new user to Linux has compared to other operating systems like Windows where you get what you see; that is to say, MS Windows 10 or 11.

The level of user personalization and configuration is remarkable. If one doesn’t like the file manager s/he is using, they can uninstall the default file manager which comes out of the box in the distro of Linux currently installed, and install another. A prime example is if you’re using Files as your file manager but prefer using PCManFM, then simply install that file manager instead. Don’t like the music app that comes in Ubuntu such as VLC Media Player? Then install and use an alternative, such as Clementine.

A host of choices is a good thing for the newbie in Linux, but oftentimes, having so many options can be daunting. Why is that? Because the MS Windows or Mac user isn’t used to being provided with alternatives. Instead, they’re used to being told what they can use, and attempting to use any other app can either result in an unstable operating system or the current operating system can attempt to persuade the user from switching by making the process overly complex.

Gnome 41 Desktop

One of the biggest choices that a new Linux user is faced with is the desktop that they will be using. Let’s take a look at the options in desktops that the user has. A comparison of these desktops will afford the new user with information that will allow them to make an informed decision, rather than simply settling for the default or what someone else says is the “cat’s meow” of Linux desktops. So, let’s begin with the most common of desktops for Linux, which is Gnome.

Gnome

The Gnome desktop is a very simple and easy-to-use desktop for a Linux user. The current version of the Gnome desktop is 41. The Activities Overview feature in Gnome allows you to access all your basic tasks. One can check their mail, view their open windows, or launch applications directly from here with a single click.

The Gnome 41 desktop affords an individual Linux user a focused working environment to make it easier to just get things accomplished. This desktop comes packed with many available features for accessing all your documents in a single place, side-by-side presentation for viewing more than one document at a time, seamless integration with all your online accounts, and a convenient messaging system that lets you control when you can respond to requests rather than forcing you to respond to them right away.

The Gnome desktop is a smooth, polished desktop environment that is both responsive and stable. You can’t go wrong installing this desktop but beware that it is a little more resource-intensive than some of the other desktops that you might choose.

MATE

The MATE desktop is a fork of the Gnome 2 desktop. The current version of the MATE desktop is 1.26. MATE is composed of various applications, such as Caja (the official file manager for MATE desktop), Pluma (a fork of Gedit, this graphical editor supports editing multiple text files in a single window), Eye of MATE (which is a fork of Eye of Gnome is a simple graphics editor with constant memory usage and is “simplicity” and “standards” compliant), Atril (a fork of Evince is a simple document viewer capable of displaying Postscript [PS], EPS [Encapsulated Postscript], DJVU, DVI, XPS, and PDF), Engrampa (a fork of File Roller is an archive manager for the MATE desktop environment), and the MATE Terminal (a fork of Gnome Terminal is a Terminal Emulation Application which can be used to access a UNIX shell in the MATE environment). You can query Distrowatch.com for all of the Linux distributions that support the MATE desktop.

The MATE Desktop Environment

KDE Plasma

Plasma is a desktop environment that caters to your needs, offers protection and privacy out of the box, allows you to enjoy your music and videos, to get creative and productive, all the while providing you with peace of mind and a beautiful environment that today’s open-source software has to offer.

KDE Plasma Desktop

The latest release of KDE Plasma is 5.24. This desktop comes with the Plasma Launcher which lets you easily and quickly access your applications, search for documents while typing or navigate to common places in the file system.

KDE Plasma is a powerhouse of a desktop environment that assists the user in performing many functions in Linux while remaining in the background. It is extremely configurable giving the user many options as to the appearance of the working environment and Linux experience.

Plasma has a default dark theme, offers widgets, panels, and community extensions that enhance the user experience. With KDE Connect, a user can connect to a remote device running this desktop to check on music that is playing, send pictures to others, and even put the device in sleep mode or shut down the device remotely.

Cinnamon

Quite possibly the best desktop environment for “newbies,” a term affectionately applied to those individuals new to Linux. This remarkable desktop environment offers a vast collection of software to enhance the user experience while remaining easy to install and configure and easy to use.

Cinnamon Desktop

Forked from the Gnome-shell, Cinnamon Desktop uses the Cinnamon-shell which came about during the transition from Gnome 2 to 3 and is mainly responsible for resurrecting Linux Mint, which uses this DE. Cinnamon Desktop uses Muffin, the window manager, which is transparent to new users, and also uses Nemo, its default file manager.

While offering a fair amount of configuration in the area of personalization to the desktop, Cinnamon holds back on overloading the new user with too many configuration options that tend to scare away newbies. The settings are categorized and ordered to make it even easier for a novice to make the right choices in setting up a look and feel that will make him/her right at home. There are several themes to choose from and, if none of the out-of-the-box themes meet the fancy of the user, s/he can go online and download additional themes and configure them as well.

Cinnamon aims to be as simple as possible for the new user, not being too technical or complex to install and configure. It is a lightweight desktop that has made Linux Mint shine and attracted many new converts from MS Windows to Linux as a result since Mint is one of the leading distros of Linux going today.

Budgie

The Budgie Desktop is a feature-rich, modern desktop designed to keep out the way of the user. The main Budgie menu makes use of the keyboard as well as the mouse but caters to the keyboard “power users” in its simplicity and ease of use while not taking your hands off the keyboard.

Budgie Desktop

This desktop introduces “Raven,” which provides an all-in-one center for accessing your calendar, controlling sound output and input (including per-app volume control), media playback, and more. As well as supporting the usual level of media integration you’d expect, such as media player controls on notifications, support for cover artwork, and global media key support for keyboards, Raven supports all MPRIS-compliant media players.

Budgie Desktop supports the freedesktop notifications specification, enabling applications to send visual alerts to the user. These notifications support actions, icons as well as passive modes. Budgie-desktop is available under a split license model. This enables developers to link against the libraries of budgie-desktop without affecting their choice of license and distribution.

Trinity

The latest release of the Trinity Desktop Environment (TDE) is 2021.10.31: TDE R14.0.11. TDE caters to computer users who prefer the traditional desktop model which runs only free/libre software. This DE is designed for UNIX-like operating systems, and is a fully-independent project that supports various Linux distros, BSD, and DilOS.

Trinity Desktop

This current release comes with improved support for user sessions on high-resolution displays, new TWin styles (SUSE2 and DeKorator), some other new applications, improvements to ffmpeg support and video support in Kopete, a revamped weather bar for Konqueror, a working KNemo backend, and various minor improvements and fixes to several long-standing annoying bugs and crashes. It also adds support for Debian Bullseye, Ubuntu Impish, Fedora 34 and 35, and Arch distributions.

The latest version of this DE can be downloaded by visiting this URL.

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